By HARRY CLARKE
LOW interest rates, market confidence and better incoming-producing properties are creating a highly active real estate market across the Surat Basin, limiting buying stock and ensuring rentals are hard to come by.
Real estate agents are reporting property turnover rates similar to pre-gas boom levels, while the Australian Reserve Bank cash rate remains at record lows – currently 0.1%.
Better rain seasons over the past 12 months are also being attributed to a squeeze in the availability of agricultural properties, while first time local buyers are snapping up homes in town for “bargain” prices.
Elders Dalby sales manager Brian Laverty said his office was on track to sell a record number of homes this financial year, with some 750 rentals currently on the books and only nine properties on the market.
“Sales numbers for this financial year are nearly as strong as what I’ve seen in my 15 years in real estate,” Mr Laverty said.
“There are bargains out there for buyers. There’s some great value and it’s also getting pushed a little bit because of the vacancy rates in the rental market.
“We’ll possibly get 80 sales for the financial year. The biggest year we ever had was in 2009 when we sold 72.
“People who are buying their first home are spending $230,000 to $250,000 and they were getting rentals for $320 a week. So they’re in a better position to be paying a house off with the current interest rates.”
Mr Laverty said while real estate in the region’s smaller towns such as Jandowae and Bell wasn’t “quite as strong”, larger centres such as Chinchilla and Roma appeared have similarly high activity.
Warren Barker, sales manager at Nutrien Harcourts Chinchilla, said a relative scarcity of rental vacancies was steering clients into the buyer market, creating higher turnover over for the past year than in 2018 and 2019.
“If the price is right the property won’t last long. A lot of them are selling before they’re even listed online,” Mr Barker said.
“At the moment agricultural properties are more active than in town, especially the bigger places – incoming producing places – they’ve been hot property.
“That probably comes down to the lowest interest rates. There’s cheap money and it’s filtering into smaller blocks as well.
“There’s obviously confidence out there. Cattle prices are strong, there ’s been rain.
“It’s brighter than I’ve seen in a long time.”
Ray White Roma principal Michelle Cloherty said rentals in the Maranoa capital were currently “very tight” while sales turnover was also high.
She attributed the activity to financial savings some buyers had made during the uneventful pandemic period.
“There are vacancies coming up all the time but it’s hard to keep up with the demand,” she said.
“When it comes to sales, I’m doing quite a few conjunctions with other agents as well as the ones we’re doing ourselves, just to keep across all the properties.
“It’s busier now than it has been since I’ve been here.”